Fall in 'vital' fire safety checks

Fire safety

The new watchdog for fire and rescue services has reported a significant fall in ‘vital’ fire safety checks being carried out across England in recent years.

In a series of reports released by the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), findings show that fire safety checks across England have fallen by 42% over the last seven years.

This is the first time that HMICFRS has inspected fire and rescue services across England, with a total of 14 different geographical inspections being carried out. Each inspection focused on different elements within the areas of effectiveness, efficiency and people. Each element was graded as outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate.

Looking at the report for Hampshire, the service received many ‘good’ scores, but a ‘requires improvement’ for protecting the public with fire regulation. This is due to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service allocating fewer staff to fire protection duties than it has in previous years, with the number of inspections in steady decline since 2010.

Inspector Zoe Billingham said: "A vital part of a fire and rescue service's role is to ensure that premises are being kept safe, but protection work is not a priority currently."

Based on the above, it is vital that companies do not rest on their laurels and rely on the fact that visits have declined over the past decade. Fire and Rescue Services can and will carry out checks at any time and in any event, and especially in light of the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, it is important companies and their staff are aware of their duties and responsibilities when it comes to fire safety.

Whilst Fire and Rescue Services will carry out fire safety checks on employers, they no longer issue ‘Fire Certificates’, which were abolished with the introduction of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (RRFSO).  The RRFSO placed duties on the Responsible Person, usually the employer, to carry out fire risk assessments on their premises and take any remedial actions necessary based on the findings of the assessment.  In the overwhelming majority of cases it is down to the employer to carry out risk assessments as a failure to do so is a breach of the law.

What can we do to help ourselves?

Organisations can make the decision to invest in some training for selected members of staff, to enable them to obtain the skills and knowledge needed to comply with the law and to carry out these fire safety checks themselves.

This would provide the organisation with peace of mind that they are informed about fire regulations and that they are taking steps to prevent fire-related incidents.

PETA can deliver

PETA can provide you with training in fire safety and risk management. Our Fire Risk Assessment one-day course is aimed at those required to undertake fire risk assessments and is an ideal introduction and foundation to the basic principles and steps required to be compliant with legislation.

PETA also offers the NEBOSH National Certificate in Fire Safety and Risk Management, a 13-day course suitable for health and safety managers or officers or anyone taking responsibility for risk assessments within an organisation.

Which course is for me?

Fire Risk Assessment

This course will enable you to identify possible causes and contributors to fire in the workplace and give you the mindset to proactively remove these risk factors. Your organisation will benefit from having internal capability to conduct fire risk assessments and someone with the knowledge to take the right action in a fire emergency.  This knowledge can also be passed onto other staff members and a safety culture can be built within the company.

Understanding the risk and outcomes of fire, fire detection and warning systems, fire suppression systems and conducting a fire risk assessment are just a few of the things you will learn on this course.

Find out more about this course which is running on 11 February and 3 June 2019.

NEBOSH National Certificate in Fire safety and Risk Management

This course is more suitable for those in dedicated health and safety roles as it will require more of your time. The primary aim of this course is to embed the methods for reducing the potential for an incident related to fire. It will give your organisation internal ability to complete fire risk assessments and implement preventative measures to reduce risks. You will also gain the understanding needed to ensure that your organisation complies with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

A few of the topics covered on the course are: health and safety policy, promoting a health and safety culture, managing fire safety, causes and prevention of fires and risk assessment in a work context. The syllabus requires 70 hours delivered tuition and completion of 55 hours of private study, with assessments at the end.

Find out more about this course, which starts on 14 March 2019.

 

Sources:  
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Report 2018-19

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